As dusk fell and many tried to flee the city for the Thanksgiving holiday, plenty of New Yorkers headed to the Upper West Side to watch balloons get inflated for the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, marveled at how the Thanksgiving Eve balloon inflation has transformed into an "event unto itself. It used to be a sleepy little event where those who lived in the neighborhood knew...now it's become a significant event—we could get a million people here!"

Thousands were waiting at 6 p.m. (the inflation began at 3 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m.): Lines of families snaked around the streets surrounding American Museum of Natural History, excited to catch a glimpse one of the seventeen giant character balloons—like Eruptor from Skylanders, Snoopy Woodstock, Hello Kitty, Thomas the Tank Engine—or the smaller balloonicles, such as the Kool-Aid Man or the Happy Hippo. Spotted among the awed onlookers was former Mayor Michael Bloomberg with his grandson Jasper Bloomberg, who looked very happy, on his shoulders.

One of the new balloons this year is the Sinclair Oil dinosaur, DINO. And this actually isn't his first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Kule said the life-sized Apatosaurus was first in the parade in 1963 and was in the lineup for 13 years, "We're ramping up for the 90th anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and it's a time for us to not only look forward to significant milestones that we have coming but it's also a chance to look back...[DINO] has a very deep history with the parade. Not having seen it for 40 years, we're extraordinarily honored to have it back in the parade."

Mother Nature also appeared to be cooperating. Kule admitted the past three years have been challenging (remember the threat of the Noreaster last year?) making this week much appreciated, "We've been blessed with beautiful weather tonight as we bring these inflatables to life and tomorrow as we entertain the 3.5 million people along the route and the 50 million people watching on television."

"This is one of the great nights every year in New York City," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference at the corner of West 77th Street and Central Park West. "It’s something we’re proud of and something that makes us realize just how great this city is." In addition to thanking Macy's for their "incredible work" in putting on the parade—"What a showcase for all that is great about New York City"—he added, "I want to thank all the men and women of the NYPD who are protecting us tonight, will be protecting us tomorrow, who protect us every day."

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was also present, announcing, "I’m anticipating that we may have record-breaking crowds. I don’t recall a year when we’ve had such ideal weather - incredible weather. Tomorrow, I think, might actually break a record on that... In anticipation of those very large crowds we’ve increased the number of officers - I think we’ll have the largest number of officers we’ve ever had for this event - over 2,500 - and the thousands of other officers that are on patrol throughout the city."

He, too, thanked the members of service on duty tomorrow, "They’ll be away from their families during the day. While you’re here celebrating, they’re here working," and was nostalgic, "I can remember - last time I was commissioner in 1994, ’95, I lived on Columbus Circle - 240 Central Park South, 7th floor balcony - I could literally touch - reach out and touch those balloons as they came around the circle - an incredible thrill."

As for next year's 90th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Kule says they are about halfway done with planning it.

The 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9 a.m.; here is the parade route. The parade is also broadcast on NBC.